There was no class on the last day. The school always told us that the last class is Thursday, but the day before, the secretary of the language centre told us that there would be no class on the last day. But we just had small ceremony.
I left the house around 10:30 in the morning because the ceremony was at 11. I asked the family to call a cab, and I paid 20 shekels from home to school. Do you remember the cab driver on my first day in Bethlehem who yelled at us and dropped us in the middle of the way to the Siraj centre because we refused to give him 25 shekels? Home-Bethlehem University is 3/4 longer than Siraj-Bethlehem University, and today’s driver charged me 20 shekels.
Classmates. Lina from Germany, me, Cletos from Ghana, Mateo from Italy. Anna from Switzerland is not here
The ceremony was simple, and I’ve got a certificate. Anna from Switzerland could not attend the ceremony because her airline emailed her that her flight is changed one day earlier, which is Thursday. So she went to the airport. And the Spoken Arabic Level 1 teacher did not show up too. Anna is from Switzerland, but working in Germany. She is very nice girl, but also very strong in her opinion and people must agree with her. Once we were talking about the war, and she was demonising Israel with the number of death in Gaza. I do not deny that many people were killed in Gaza by the Israeli attack. I told her that Hamas also tried to attack, they just did not succeed. Then she mentioned the number of deaths on both sides and said “how can it be the same!” I also told her it is because Israel has defensive technology and successfully defended its citizens, not because Hamas was better in spirit and mind and refused to attack the other. Then she became so mad. I do not understand why so many people especially from Europe think Palestinians are good, but Israelis are pure evil?
A few days before the talk, our classmates, including Anna and I, were talking about airlines. I said that I am flying with SWISS (Anna was happy), but I think Lufthansa is slightly better than SWISS. At this point, she became so offended with that. And yesterday, we were talking again in the class about the airlines. I told her that SWISS is one of the top airlines. Then she said with still little bit angry voice, “SWISS air is NOT one of the top airlines. It is the ONLY TOP airline! I am not saying this because I am from Switzerland. It is just the FACT!” I wanted to ask her to prove it with the numbers and evidences, but I just said, “OK” to avoid her anger.
Gemma from Spain
After the ceremony, some of the students had lunch together. And there were three people going to the airport including me. Edward Fox, middle-aged guy from England wanted to join me but was not sure. And Zoey from rural Illinois wanted to go to the airport with me and she asked me to wait for her in the bus stop for an hour. Actually she came to the bus stop in two hours. She is very spoiled daughter, and her father does everything for her even for now when she is in college, and consequently she does not know to do anything.
While I was standing next to the bus stop, the taxi drivers came to me to ask the taxi ride. I told them that I am waiting for my friend, then they found that I speak Arabic, and became very curious about me. So I was surrounded by them and talked two hours. I found that Christians and Muslims have different greetings in Arabic. Some of the people I talked have multiple wives (the maximum number is four). Later, they began to shout “Fucking America” surrounding me as if they protest in front of the Embassy. It was half joke and half serious. They said no Palestinians like America and they hate it more than Israel. Later, one of them advised me not to say I am from America but just say that I am a Korean because identifying oneself as an American is not wise in Palestine.
After waiting two hours, Zoey came to the bus stop, and I also found Edward too. So we three journeyed to the airport together. The bus was full of Students of Bethlehem University, Palestinians living in Jerusalem. At the checkpoint, everybody got off the bus, and walked through the soldiers showing the permits and passports. It was my first time getting off the bus for the checking. Every time, the soldiers got on the bus. And because of this, I lost my seat.
Edward’s flight was 9pm, Zoey’s 11pm, and mine was 5am next morning. From Jerusalem, there are two ways to go to the airport. Getting a sherut (or shared taxi), and using the public transportation. The best and fastest way is to use the sherut. I explained them about both ways, and I recommended the sherut. But somehow, Edward insisted on the public transportation. It was about 5pm, and I was kind of worried about his flight, but he insisted. From the Damascus gate, we used light railway to the Jerusalem Central Bus Station. ANd we waited an hour and got on the bus to the Haifa, and got off at the airport city. There we were supposed to get on the free shuttle, or any public bus to the airport terminals, but we did not see anything. And finally we got on a cab all together. It was about 8pm when we got to the airport terminal. He ran as fast as he can. Zoey went through the security check right away because the security check begins three hours prior to the flight. Later I met Edward again. He told me that he missed the flight. We spent three hours on the public transportation system when we could have just spent 45 minutes on sherut.
Ilaria from Italy
Here comes small stories from the trip.
My hosting family in Bethlehem has a Hyundai Tucson. I do not know how they got this, but it must be from Korea. The owner’s manual is in Korea. The car speaks Korean (voice activated features and instructions). The navigation systems also shows and speaks Korean. And they cannot use any of the advanced features of the car including Bluetooth, multimedia features and navigation. They just drive. And they said that they suffer from Korean language.
The family has a daughter, and two sons. And I stayed in the daughter’s room, and every night she slept on the couch in the living room (she graduated college). I did not feel happy and comfortable about that. Except, the hosting family was very good. They are super nice people.
In Palestine (and probably all the Arab world), mother does everything. Father cannot do anything about house chores, and children are the same. once I wanted to do my laundry and asked the daughter where the washing machine is, and she asked me back if they have one. Five minutes later I found it in front of her room. The family do not even gather the laundry for their mother. She goes everywhere to collect the laundry. When I told another lady that men do half (or more) of the house chores in Canada and America, she was shocked. And she said complaining about the house chore is not possible and if one does, then she is considered as an evil mother and evil woman.
In Palestine, people live in peace between them, not like in other areas of middle east where they kill each other. Even Christians and Muslims have no problem living together in Bethlehem. But in my perception, it is just because they face bigger problem of Israel.
As I wrote above, Palestinians hate America. Then how about Israelis? I was told many times from the Israelis that “Do you know we hate Obama? All Israelis hate Obama” when I told them that I am from Chicago. America is fool, spends a lot of money and effort on both sides and being hated from both.
On the trip to Hebron together, the so-called tour guide was talking about Hamas. I was not actually listening because he has no logic in his speech. But Lina, the girl from Germany, told him that it is not 100% that she agrees. Then the guy began to yell at her. She was freaked out, and she stopped talking with him. I think that attitude will never work to make friends. And they need friends.
Yesterday when I was sitting on a bench in the school yard, an old gentleman (he is a professor at Bethlehem University) came to me and asked if I am a Korean. I said that I am a Korea but I am from Chicago. He told me that they have two exchange students from Korea every year, and he thought I am one of them. We talked a bit more. Suddenly he asked me if I fell in love with a Palestinian girl. I said no. He, then, pointing two girls sitting beside me, asked me again “Don’t you think the Palestinians girls are beautiful?” I told him that I am married. Well, this is third time that people tried to connect me with someone.